Sunday, May 10, 2009

Peer Review in the Digital World

We had a conversation with some of the leading diagnostic imaging informatics experts,the leading experts and practicioners in the field; people who understand how to read the CT scan, the MRI, the Xray, the Mammogram. We asked them what they thought about search and looking for important information on the web. They told us that one of the problems they have when they search the web looking for medical research and other clinical and diagnostic information is that they don't have confidence in the results. They get blogs, opinion, and other unreliable information that they don't feel they can use to make decisions on behalf of their patients. The Drs. have to evaluate the reliability of the information that pops up on their search results list and they are not happy with what they find with a search of the web.

The Drs. still don't have the same level of confidence in what they find on the web as what they have when they find and read the peer reviewed journals that report on Radiology and the amazing imaging views that they use to diagnose disease and to improve the outcome for their patients. They need the experts, they need to know that the information they find is reliable; they need to know the credentials of the people who are publishing their findings and opinions. What they want is the a tool to help them make a judgement on the reliability of the content of the results of their search. After all, real people with real health issues are counting on them. They need to understand the authority of the information that they review.

So we talked about "bibilometrics", the study of written documents and their citations; bibliometrics uses citations to produce a quantitative and qualitative estimate of the importance of and impact of scientific research papers, journals and analytical analyses to results of their search. In short, they need a way to determine the merit of the work before they use it to help them in their decision making process.

We talked about creating a way to use the citations on these writing to build an way to evaluate the work and add weight to the important and authority of works when you search. Thesesame techniques have been used to find important patents, to find "important patents" based on how many times a work is cited by other inventors. To determine which new patents are going to be important.

So, we went to the drawing board to build an electronic equivalent of the peer review system based on the content of the citations, the organizations that published the work, the credentials of the authors, and the frequency of citations on published articles to help searchers find the woks that are most important. We are building the social network of the researchers so that these experts can connect with each other and leverage their important work. Stay tuned.

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